THE impending ‘eco-tax’ aimed at tourists visiting Mallorca this summer has done little to discourage the record numbers expected to descend on the Balearic Island in the coming weeks and months.
Due to take effect from June 1, the tax has been roundly criticised by local residents and businesses alike, but all the signs are suggesting that 2016 will be a phenomenal year for the tourist industry, especially given the growing security concerns in Mediterranean rivals Turkey and Tunisia.
Indeed the masses have already begun arriving, with 22,000 passengers arriving at Palma on just eight enormous cruise ships in one day earlier this month. Together Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza, are already the second biggest Mediterranean destination for cruise ships with 790 stopping over last year.
Expectations for 2016 are already in and Palma expects an almost biblical 524 ships, and Ibiza 154, both representing significant increases likely to bring thousands of jobs and millions of euros to the region.
While the news has hoteliers and local businesses smacking their lips in anticipation, environmentalists are concerned about the impact of growing numbers on the Islands’ renowned but under threat ecology.
Gerald Hau, a spokesman for Grup Balear d’Ornitologia Defensa de la Naturalesa (GOB) expressed the group’s concerns:
“This will be a crazy year. The infrastructure will not cope. Mallorca is booked out. We will have serious problems this summer.
“People come here to enjoy life, but they are stressed because they can’t get a seat on the buses – there aren’t enough buses. Already we have 60,000 rental cars on this island. We are second only to Hong Kong in our car density. The traffic is gridlocked, so people are stressed. There are no parking places.
“If they can’t go in the sea sometimes, they are stressed. Last year we had problems with sewage. The system just couldn’t cope, and we do not let people into the sea if there are such problems. They are stressed because there is no room on the beaches, they are stressed and they won’t come back. Tourism is a vital thing, mass tourism is a tricky, tricky thing. This year will be a crisis year,” he said.